Ben’s guide to gig etiquette! (AKA – gripes of a grumpy gig goer)

By Ben

Live music is my favorite thing and as a result I have spent countless hours in close proximity to countless other punters and had some unbelievable and unforgettable experiences.  But for all the awesome there is all too often annoyance.  I am not renowned as a particularly patient person and crowds can be the ultimate test of the tether on my temper
So I have honed a list of my behavioral observations and suggestions from my experiences as seen from my somewhat crusty & jaded perspective.

I believe we can all have fun at musical events without them degenerating into some Lord Of The Flies style hostile anarchy.   A little “I’m okay – you’re okay” or “mi casa- su casa” and yes even a little “don’t poke the bear” and we can all go home happy.


Eric Church at CMT music awards

Surely mobile phones are high on many punters’ list of bugbears.

Excessive filming, recording or photo taking is annoying but a minor irritant compared to what really irks me. It is the oblivious and compulsive texter that most gets on my goat.   Of course being a reasonable member of this so called “society” as well as also being a social animal, I understand and condone the use of your phone for communication purposes, this is no issue at all.

However for the majority of the time your phone should remain in your pocket/purse/pointless backpack (what’s going on lately with the tiny backpacks at gigs? If it’s not full of drugs or a colostomy bag leave it at home!).  If you are there just to hang out – cool! Do what ever you want but if you are the disinterested person taking up valuable real estate in front of me whilst someone I came to watch plays we will have beef.

*Confession – if you are behaving in this exact manner at a show I very likely will bump into you a lot whilst you try to text. Most of the time this will be completely accidental.
Most of the time.   But I make no apologies, because sometimes I just gots to get down! *
Another important thing to know is this – please don’t ring me a show. It is a frustrating waste of time for both of us. Send me a text and I will get back to you ASAP.

But please note that communicating by mobile phone at a packed festival is not a sound strategy. Firing your location off into the overcrowded ether doesn’t mean much in such a circumstance. Trying to arrange a hook up will be an exercise in pointlessness. Even if your message does get through the person you want meet with will inevitably be in the least geographically convenient place to your current location. And as you clumsily communicate and move to meet one of you will realise there is a band on you need to see and bail. After which the more optimistic among us will repeat the process again. Don’t bother, leave catching up with mates in the hands of serendipity.



I believe that at a show everyone is, as much as possible, allowed the right to the best view and space possible. Its seems to me that everyone bought a ticket and has the right to do whatever tickles them– as long it doesn’t detract from the experience of others.

This means don’t get on someone’s shoulders in front of me and block my view. If you are taking a quick photo or two then cool. But if you are getting up to make a spectacle of yourself and that impedes my view we will have an issue.

*Confession – if you are ever guilty of this shoulder-surfing pain in the arse behaviour then I will bring you down.

The first few salvos will be Mentos lobbed at your head. A declaration of sorts, a statement of dissatisfaction and a warning to the wise, but if you continue to knowingly obstruct my view then coins are next. Under most circumstances I throw like a drunken sloth, but in these particular situations I become a weapon with a ninja-like laser beam arm. *



Be polite when moving through the crowd.  Conversely – let people who are being polite move past.

50/50 is all we need – you tilt a little sideways, I lean back a bit and you can get to the dunny or the bar or wherever without any dramas. It’s only good manners.  Don’t be the dickhead who slams into people and shoves their way through the crowd. Apart from being a horrible person, one day you will shove the wrong person and they will kick you right in the arse. Fact.

Remember – courtesy is contagious.

NB- This does not apply if you are trying to squeeze in front of people who have staked out a good spot early. If they have held down a position in anticipation of a particular act then it is first come, first served and you will need to deal with your lot elsewhere.



Every time I have been to a festival I have seen a couple of early causalities. Drink (or whatever) if that’s your thing, but if are going to spend a few hundred bucks on a day out then try to make it all the way through in a state where you can appreciate what (hopefully) you came for – music.

Nobody respects or appreciates the really drunk dude or the incredibly munted motherfucker all up in their business. And it must be hard to regain any cred after being carried out by security or wheeled out on a gurney before mid afternoon.

Take the brown acid for all I care, but do your thing without going overboard and fucking up your day, or more importantly – someone else’s.



This is less a suggested behavioral guideline than a plea for help.
Some of the most disturbing things I have ever seen have been in gig or festival toilets.  As if the inconvenience of having to manoeuvre to the ablutions isn’t bad enough, then actually arriving there is. I can’t for life of me work out how so many adults can seem to have such horrific failure of toilet training.

But finding a toilet that is not going to bring the germophobe in me out screaming is impossible. So I have learned to shut down most of my senses and get in, get it done, and get out. The key is mental focus.

Which brings me to my next point – no talking in the men’s room. None. Ever.



Don’t be afraid of having “a moment” with a friend or peer.

I have been lucky enough to share many, many fantastic music experiences with so many friends but countless times at shows I have shared the rapturous enjoyment of a brilliant live experience with a complete stranger who is equally feeling the vibe – “a broment”

An unspoken bond between acolytes enveloped in the aural awesomeness.   High fives, singing the chorus to each other, dancing around like a maniac or (very rarely for me) the arm in arm sing along are acceptable and encouraged.

These are the transcendent times that can be so beautiful. A mutual embracing of the endorphins being sent surging by the song that is sending you sinking into a purely platonic sharing of pleasure .  And when it is over knowing looks are exchanged, a smile, a nod and off into the night we each go. Our special fleeting connection – our broment – is gone but not forgotten.   But be sure to let it go when the time comes. Nothing is sadder than desperately attempting to milk more from the broment than it has to offer.


maa ja ilm singing festival, Estonia

No singing – or more likely yelling over the band. Again, this is usually more of a festival problem but an inconsiderate pain in the butt at its worst.
It’s simple – not matter how good you are (and you are probably rubbish) I didn’t pay to listen to you drown out the whole set.

Sing-alongs can be amazing when handled properly. Wait for the right time to open your lungs and warble along, you will know it when it comes. Until then keep the overbearing barking to a minimum.



No roughhousing. Period.
If you are the kind of dude who likes to take his shirt off, put it in his back pocket and wrestle or tackle your ‘boy’ in a crowd of people, then you are a dick.

Please don’t do it. Onya bro.



Which is not a bad segue into in my next pet hate – don’t be the doucebag who runs and takes a flying leap into the back of the mosh. That really sucks when you do that.  Mosh your little heart out, jump off the stage all you fancy, slam around into other willing kids all you like, I was young once too.  But come at the throng from the front. I, and I’m assuming others don’t like being smashed from a jet propelled, jacked up idiot who thinks it’s cool to leap at us from the rear.

Not cool man.



The final one is my least self-interested – buy some merch!
If you are at show by a band you like then wherever feasible it is a cool thing to do if you buy some merch.  If you feel they deserve your support – support them.

Plus at a lot of shows it means you will possibly interacting with a band member. If this does occur then you I can offer you no advice, I will only say my experiences along those lines have not gone as one would hope (being cool and disaffected is not a skill of mine).

Now, can’t we all just get along?  Cheers.